While the UFC has been putting on red hot shows with lots of great fights lately, the big topic of conversation going on right now in mixed-martial-arts circles centers around rumors of the promotion’s sale for $4.2 billion. Yesterday it was reported that an agreement had been met that would see current owners of the promotion Lorenzo and Frank Fertitta out while UFC president Dana White stays to help with the ownership transition.
Those rumors were quickly denied by UFC brass, but at this point there’s too many people telling the same story for there not to be some truth to it. Perhaps the sale is final, perhaps it’s almost final. Perhaps it will all fall apart. But if what we’re hearing is true and Dana White will stick around, you can count former UFC fighter and mixed-martial-arts legend Randy Couture amongst those who are disappointed.
“I hear the company that bought it is keeping him on as the president,” he said on ESPN1100 Radio, as transcribed by MMA Fighting. “If the UFC has a problem right now as a brand, it’s an image problem. How they act and how they treat the fighters and the things that they do with their fighters that are in their stable and lot of that trickles down from him — his attitude. His attitude when he does interviews. His attitude when he deals with the media. His attitude when he deals with his fighters.”
Randy has dealt with that attitude first hand: Dana White excommunicated Couture from the UFC after he signed a deal with Viacom, the parent company of competing promotion Bellator MMA. Most famously, White forbid Randy from cornering his son Ryan Couture during his run in the UFC. And Couture is far from the only person who has suffered the wrath of White.
“If I bought the company and wanted to change that or take it to the next level, I’m thinking you need a change of face, you need a change of image,” Couture continued. “You address the class action lawsuit and all the other stuff that’s gone on in the tenure that they’ve been in charge. I have no idea what that contract looks like and why but maybe the new owners need need to get in, get the lay of the land, and figure out what’s going on. They need somebody to show them the ropes. But are those really the ropes you want to be shown? Some of those ropes are pretty sour in my mind.”
But you can’t deny they’ve worked out for UFC brass. Dana White and the Fertittas have kept fighter pay extremely low in comparison to every other professional sports league, with some estimates pegging the percentage fighters get of UFC revenue at around 17%. Compare that to other leagues like the NHL where the percentage is around 55%, and the NFL which sits around 48%. If athlete pay was exploding in the UFC, I doubt they would have received a $4.2 billion offer for the company.
There’s also the reality that everyone who has tried to emulate the UFC has gone down in flames. Part of this is due to the promotion’s iron grip on the sport and its top athletes, but the other part is the unpredictable and expensive nature of prizefighting. Thus far, Dana White is the only guy who has managed to make the numbers work and turn a profit from it in the long run. For that reason alone, any smart business man would want him to stick around after a sale to make sure the company isn’t run into the ground … even if he rubs a lot of people the wrong way.
(Via MMA Fighting)